Why some African countries don’t want charity clothes

second-hand clothes
Second-hand clothes

In recent years, the textile industry in African countries has taken a hit because of second-hand clothes from the Western world. Remembering the great and rich African Fabrics and Textiles industry of years and centuries prior, many have thus decided to stop accepting these to keep building or rather re-building their own textile industry. Over 30 years ago, President Thomas Sankara of Burkina Faso instituted the Faso Dan Fani in the workplace to encourage the local textile workers. Today, our wish is that other African countries will follow suit, and that throughout the world there will now be clothes worn with the label ‘Made in Senegal,’ or ‘Made in Mali,’ or ‘Made in Tanzania,’ or simply ‘Made in … [the African country’s name]’. Below is the excerpt of the article from the BBC. For the full article, go to The BBC.


Faso dan fani2
Faso Dan Fani

Claim: Donating second-hand clothes has had a negative effect on textile industries in African countries.

The Rwandan President, Paul Kagame, has said: “We are put in a situation where we have to choose – you choose to be a recipient of used clothes… or choose to grow our textile industries.”

Rwanda is planning to ban the import of second-hand clothes by 2019 and has already put up tariffs.

Verdict: Imports of cheap second-hand clothes from the West have had an impact on local clothes manufacturers – but so have changes in world trade policies and the rise of Asian garment producers.

… African countries once had large textile industries – and some critics blame the flood of cheap second-hand clothes from abroad for the continent’s shrunken textile sector.

[…]  In 2015, member states of the East African Community (EAC), which comprises Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda, announced they would ban second-hand imports from 2019 to protect their own clothing manufacturers. 

Kente cloth
Kente cloth

East African countries, which account for 13% of the global market in second-hand textiles (worth a total of $274m (£208m) in 2015, began imposing tariffs. But then, under pressure from the United States, countries in the EAC reduced tariffs and withdrew the proposed ban. Rwanda, however, refused to back down.

And in March 2018, the US temporarily suspended Rwanda from an arrangement allowing sub-Saharan countries preferential access to the US market.

But Rwanda stood firm and maintained its import tariffs, saying it wanted to build up its own “Made in Rwanda” textile industry. …

2 thoughts on “Why some African countries don’t want charity clothes

  1. I heard a bit about Kagame banning secondhand clothes, but I didn’t realize how big of an event it was with multiple countries. It’s a shame that Rwanda is being punished for wanting to do for themselves with their own clothing industries. It’s as if the West wants there to be a co-dependence going on.


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